tv Glenn Greenwald on Government Surveillance CSPAN November 8, 2014 10:20pm-12:11am EST
universe -- that's not going to work. >> just one clarification -- child pornography is not quite that easy because it's not always easy to tell whether the person depicted is in fact a minor, so they do have to engage in some judgment calls and some investigation. not necessarily more onerous than figuring out whether or not a picture was consensual. unfortunately, we have broken a promise to keep it to about 60 minutes, but we were close. wonderful conversation that i'm sure could continue for hours, but we appreciate all of you coming. thanks very much. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
>> next, author glenn greenwald talks about government surveillance and security. after that, internet regulations between content providers and service providers. after that, a forum on internet privacy. this weekend, independent vermont senator bernie sanders, the chair of the veterans affairs committee. he talks about efforts to revamp the v.a.. the lame-duck congress. what he expects in the next congress. and campaign 2016. newsmakers, on c-span. author and columnist grennan -- glenn greenwald spoke in ottawa, canada. it came shortly after the shooting of a canadian soldier.
he also address concerns about surveillance. following the speech, he took questions on edward snowden, canada possible and mass surveillance, and working with journalists. event.rown moderates the >> hello, everybody. my name is bill owen. i am the organizer. with a lot of help from open media. they have been instrumental. i have done these things before and these guys are great sponsors. a little bit of the history.
part of the reason i am bringing friend of mine. i believe in his message. i asked him to come to ottawa. as a favor to me, he has come to ottawa. tonight, you might be interested in how i met lynn. -- glenn. commenterssome great and we would debate. he would always jump into the comments. sometimes insult us. over the years, we would exchange comments. we started exchanging e-mails and things like that. i brought him here for the first time and met him a few times since then. v,ntrary to the image on ct
people think he is an ogre, he is the nicest and sweetest guy. i'm not in a talk too much. nobody came to see me. i'm holding in my hand a rubik's cube. it is central to the story. kong, hen went to hong had no idea what snowden looked like. snowden did not tell him what he looked like. i will be carrying a rubik's cube. when he went into the lobby, he is looking around. his expecting a senior and a sake he looks over there and sees little edward snowden. who looks like 19. glenn'se glenn -- blew mind.
long story short, they talked. this is where we are. we are almost ready. our host for the evening, the actual host, is jesse brown. actual journalist. does herrently currently has his own website three his going to do he has his own website. he going to do an interview with glenn. he has promised me a probing interview. that is basically the thing. i will leave it at that. jesse is going to intro glenn. i want to thank everybody for coming and my sponsors. most of all, my wife. she has been instrumental he would off your cell phones. put them in the refrigerator.
right now, we have jesse brown coming out. give a big can't -- bighand. [applause] thank you. it has been a hell of a week. i was following a long and twitter is things were unfolding here. i was feeling the commission -- confusion and later the sadness. i felt something else. i had selfish thoughts i thought, this is bad luck. what bad timing that this had to happen so soon before the greenwald event. and everything that i heard as events unfolded and since the days since sort of affirmed that sense that the timing is off. we hear these things. canada lost her innocence on wednesday. and we hear that we have to say good-bye to the old normal
because now it's welcome to the new normal. we are told that things just don't feel the same any more. all of this just gave me this growing pervasive sense that this was not the time for this conversation. and then i thought about some other things. i thought about bill c-13 first introduced years ago as a lawful access legislation, then called the protecting children from online predators act and people were not so happy as that. then it was rebranded as the anti-cyber bullying law. whatever you call it this is a piece of legislation that makes it easy for law enforcement to call up your cell phone provider, to call up your telephone provider and get information about you without a warrant. which they do now but this o would make it legal. 73% of canadians oppose this bill and privacy advocates and commissioners are against it. the supreme court has ruled
it's probably constitution. this past week it passed in the house of commons and off for rubber stamp. after the shooting our prime minister promised tough new legislation that will make sort of speech illegal and make it easier for authorities to detain suspects of terrorism. this is not a new normal. this is the old normal. we've seen this before. we have seen moments of trauma and fear that have come with them subtle messages that it's not appropriate to have certain conversations during those times. we've seen before that while we're getting that subtle and not so subtle messages that those are not appropriate our rights get curtailed.
this has happened before. so seeing this auditorium filled with canadians tells me that this is the exact right time to have this discussion. this is the exact right time to talk about things like surveillance and our rights. i feel incredibly lucky to be introducing glenn greenwald in a moment. i feel very lucky that there is a glenn greenwald. i think about that. [applause] think about that. consider for a second if edward snowden didn't have a glenn greenwald to contact, if there wasn't a journalist to encrypt the information. imagine if the nsa had heard what snowden was trying to convey, if the journal was not as committed to responsibly reporting the revelations that snowden was brave enough to come forward with. imagine, we would all be the worst off for it. i don't know where edward snowden would be.
glenn greenwald has paid a price for revealing these truths. he has had his patriotism questioned, he has called a criminal or accessory to a criminal. he has been called these things by a journalist. he has had his boyfriend detained. but he is here with us. glenn greenwald. [applause] >> thank you very much. thank you so much. good evening to everybody. thanks for coming out tonight. and thank you as well to open media and rabble pa for
sponsoring the event and thanks as well to my very enthusiastic long time reader bill owen for organizing such an event and helping me to be able to come this week to canada where i have had a very eventful 96 hours. it is actually in an interesting way i feel i've had, despite how tumtuss it's been, a rather productive week because i feel like i've accomplished something on my list of life objectives which some would say would brex possible to achieve, which is i have gotten to spend an entire week with my email box full of enraged canadians. and there are a lot of people who would have said that's just impossible to achieve. so it's something i got to check off of my list. the reaction to the article i wrote this week, which i wrote
after the quebec attacks, very short by before the news of the ottowa shooting broke, actually did provoke among the most intense and polarizing reaction of anything that i've ever written. and in a lot of ways i look at that as a sign that it was actually a piece very worth writing. because i do think ultimately the role of journalism especially at the most difficult times is to question and challenge the assumptions that people cling to most fervently. i heard from at least as many canadians who were supportive of the arguments i had made and who were appreciative of the fact that the debate ended up with the arguments and perspectives as i did hearing from enraged canadians and i think this underscores an important point, which is that the events of this week, as tragic and horrific as they have been to watch and to watch unfold, really do provide the perfect framework in a lot
of ways to think about all the issues that i had long planned here to come and discuss. those issues are one that is i have been working on for many years but were really brought into vivid highlight by the work i've been able to do over the last 16 months reporting on the extraordinary archive of documents provided to me by my heroic source edward snowden. and these issues pertain to the messages and narratives that western democracy, the governments of western democracies have been disseminating to their citizenry in their post 9/11 era about terrorism, about threats, about the nature of our societies. and they pertain to all the pollingssy that is have been you -- ushered in as a result of those claims. in a lot of ways the events of this week which i've got to see first-hand by being here is almost like a perfect laboratory for understanding how countries
in the west have responded to these kinds of attacks and the policies and perspective that is they've been able to entrench as a result. the very first event that happened upon the first attack that i immediately noticed and recognized as extremely familiar and significant was the instantaneous injection -- and by instantaneous, i do mean instantaneous -- injection of the most inflammatory but also the most meaningless word in our political lexicon, which is terrorism. almost instantly before anybody knew anything about the perpetrators of either events, the media and political class in this country and then in the united states and throughout the west all agreed by consensus that both of these attacks were adequately and even necessarily described as being terrorism. there is no discussion as usual
of what that word means or what an act has to do in order to qualify. it was simply a label that instantly got applied almost reflexively without any re felction or deliberation or any kind in that word is meaningless in the sense that it has no definition but it's inflammatory in the sense that it's incredibly consequential. and it happens over and over again. i think it's worth thinking about what that word means and the effect that we've allowed it to have on all of our thought processes as citizens. that was followed by the remarkable agility of how the harper government tactically responded to these attacks. i am not a particularly enthused fan of the harper government. but -- [applause] -- but, you know, i think it's important to give credit where it's due.
the speed and the aggression and the brazenness and the shamelessness with which the prime minister moved to manipulate and exploit the emotions, to demand for power for himself were in a really workway almost impressive. i think you've got to give him credit. if you look at how other western governments have responded to these attacks they usually have the decency to waited an intval of two to three weeks before admitting that they're exploiting these fears to justify the new powers. but prime minister harper is remarkably unburdened by those kinds of quams. it's amazing. less than 48 hours after the ottowa shootings he stood up in the house of commons, this is yesterday, and this is what he said. "our laws and police powers need to be strengthened in the areas of surveillance, detention, and arrest. they need to be much
strengthened. i assure members that work which is already under way will be expedited. and again the only thing unusual about that is the speed and nakedness with which it has happened but this has been the process in the 9/11 era in which these are seized upon in a way to further dismantle core protections of civil liberties and core principles of western justice. another really visible and really familiar dynamic that i was able to see this week is what i often refer to as the too soon tactic. i had a lot of people who wrote to me the canadians who wrote to me who said, look, i agree with a lot of what you've said in that article and what you've been saying. i think it's important for you to say it but i feel like it's too soon. apparently there's some kind of
time limit that you're supposed to wait before you start talking about these attacks in a substantive way. and while i understand the sentiment behind that claim, the problem with it is that there is no such thing as too soon when it comes to how the government and their allies in the media start politicizing these events. it was, as i said instantaneous that it got labeled a terrorist attack and that there were all kinds of claims very debatable claims made based on the emotion that came out of these attacks. and i think if you're a journalist or citizen it's actually irresponsible to seize these critical hours when citizenry is most engage in an emotional and riveted way to cede that to the government and let the government messages go unchallenged. they don't wait before they start challenging. i think it's worth talking about that as well. but the most significant part of
the dynamic that i want to spend the bulk of my time talking about is the way in which we have been persuaded to think about the world in a drastically different way than reality ought to suggest. and by that i mean that we have been persuaded to think about our own societies and our own governments and our own behavior in the world that bears very little resemblance to the reality of what we've allowed our society and governments to do in the world. and to illustrate that as best i can, i want to share with you a little anecdote that involves canada. the very first story from the snowden archive that i was able to report that specifically involved canada, i mean, all the stories involve canada in the sense that they're all about the internet and we share the same internet. but the very first story i was able to report about surveillance from the snowden archive was back in october of last year.
and i reported this story with the large brazilian television network globeo. and what this story revealed it used documents from your version of the nsa, which is the surveillance agency in canada and what it revealed is that c sak had been spying on the communications of the brazilian ministry of mines energy which oh so coincidentally just happens to be the agency in brazil of greatest interest to the timber and logging industry. before i reported this story i knew it was going to be a huge story in brazil because part because they're very concerned about the way in which surveillance is being used to essentially cheat in the marketplace. also because it smacks of the kind of colonialism and imperialism with which that country has been plagued for so long by its neighbors to the north. but also, i knew that while it would be a huge story in brazil
i didn't actually expect it to be a big story in canada. the reason is because from experience i know that when i've done reporting along the lines of country a is spying on country b, country b, the country being spied on, cares a huge amount but typically country a, the country doing the spying, doesn't really care at all. people care about the stories that show that they're being spied on but they don't care very much about stories showing their government is spying on other people around the world. yet my expecttations were completely thwarted. it was a huge story in canada. it led the nightly news four or five consecutive nights. i was delugede to do interviews and do further reporting. a lot did. i was very surprised at how much that story resonated here in canada. i spoke to a couple of canadian journalist whose i know pretty well, three or four of them, and asked why has this story become so big in canada that canada is
spying this ministry in brazil? basically they said there are two reasons. they said number one there were a ton of canadians, probably most, who didn't even know there was such an agency called csac, that canadians didn't know that they had an agency engaged in this very far-reaching and invasive surveillance. they were watching the snowden story, they knew but didn't know there is an agency called csac. and i found this more meaningful. secondly they said the self-perception that canadians have nation listically is completely at odds with what this story revealed. essentially they were saying the ideas that canadians think we're canadians, we don't do that kind of thing, we don't spy on
democratically elected friendly governments for unfair economic advantage. and i found both of those points to be profoundly significant. i mean, think about the first point, the idea that there's this agency called csac that throughout the world engages in incredibly consequential behavior which the very existence of which has been kept from canadians let alone the broad strokes of what they do. think about what that means for the claim that we're living in a meaningful democracy. whenever people ask me -- and i get asked this all the time in interviews, what is the most meaningful revelation that you discovered from the snowden archive, always the threat of privacy posed by this surveillance, the vast amount of communications they collect every day is very significant. but even more significant than that is the threat posed to democracy. it is stunning that these five governments of the five
alliance, the u.s., u.k., australia, new zealand, and canada -- have instituted a system with such profound far-reaching implications as a system of mass surveillance without a whiff of disclosure or debate among the citizenries that are supposed to hold them democratically accountable. i did a story i think about four months ago as i came from the nsa archive one of the most significant ones we did even though it didn't get a lot of attention compared to the other stories. the story was essentially about this magazine that the nsa publishes internally. they have like a magazine that's top secret. it's only for themselves and it looks like every other magazine that you would buy at the newsstand except it's really
creepy. they constantly boast about the wonderful ways they've invaded communications and have little profiles about the technological nerds who have figured out how to break into somebody's email . it's like snoop of the week, that kind of thing. and one of the issues that we had in the snowden archives contained an interview. they do interviews. and the interview was with the top official at the nsa in charge of foreign partnerships. he manages the nsa's relationship with the chq and csac here in canada and every other agency with which they cooperate. and the interviewer asked him this question. there's this incredibly strange phenomenon that a lot of us can't figure out. in all of these other countries with which we partner you have wild swings in the outcome of political elections. sometimes conservatives win, otherwise liberals win. you have the far right, the far left. it almost makes no difference. nothing changes.
our partnerships with these other countries continues as strong no matter who wins or loses the election. why is that? and one of the really fascinating things and unusual things about reading these documents from the snowden archive is you encounter this thing you never otherwise see which is government officials when asked a question actually tell the truth because they didn't ever think that anybody would know what their answer was because it was all supposed to be secret. and what this official said in response to that question to me was incredibly significant. he said the reason these partnerships never change based on the outcome of elections is because there's almost nobody outside of the military structure of these countries that even knows that these partnerships exist. in other words, the people that we go to the polls and elect as our political leaders have no idea and never learn about the existence of these surveillance activities and therefore can't change them because they don't
know about them. and over and over in all of the countries in which i did reporting i constantly had top officials or members of parliament or congress say to me, i was responsible for overseeing this agency and yet i learned so much more from reading your articles that were published than i've ever learned from the oversight can hes on which i sat or the government meetings i attend. it's almost like a state within a state. and the state that is within the state is one that has been completely removed from democratic accountability or from transparency of any kind. and that experience in writing about csac for the first time really underscored that for me. think of how little we have learned prior to that reporting about the most or one of the most profoundly consequential programs that our government is has implemented and think about how genuine a democracy we really have, how meaningful it is if we pick the leader that we
want if we have no idea what it is they're doing. not just surveillance but all sorts of other policies implemented in the name of terrorism that have existed beyond this wall of secrecy. and the implications for democracy are incredibly profound as is our ability as citizens to understand what our government is doing. now, that leads to the other reason that they gave that i found eevep more fascinating which is although they were saying it happened just it is really quite true canadians acted with the story because it's inconsistent with their self-perception. we're canadians. we don't do those sort of things. obviously that perception was wrong. canadians do that thing. when you think about what that means that the reality of what our government is doing on the one hand is inconsistent with the perceptions that we have.
on the other that's another way of saying that the citizenry has been propagandized. that's the definition of that term that they have been led to believe pleasant things about their government that actually is disparate to the reality of what the government does in the world. and this to me is the crux of the entire post 9/11 era and the events we saw this week. so i want to spend a little bit of time talking about that a little more in-depth. i remember very vividly the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack. i'm talking about the days and weeks after the 9/11 attack. i was in ny.. i lived and worked there for ten years so i recall that experience very, very clearly. the prevailing emotion that was triggered by the 9/11 attacks and the immediate aftermath, not months down the road once the government began massaging the messaging but the immediate aftermath was not one of anger
or vengeance or sadness. it wasn't one of those things. the immediate prevailing emotion was bafflement, shock and surprise. and the question that was on almost everybody's mind is, why would somebody possibly want to do this to the united states? why would somebody have such hatred for americans that they would be willing to blow themselves up in order to kill as many people indiscriminately that they don't know? what kind of causes could have led them to that mindset? and this was being asked not rhetorically. it wasn't a patriot station of innocence or anything like that. it was a genuine question. most americans genuinely did not understand the answer. and the u.s. government knew that it had to provide an answer because everybody knew there was some reason. everyone knew it wasn't random.
the group that was responsible for it didn't put the names of all the countries into the hat and happen to pick out the united states. there had to be some reason and the government knew it had to provide an explanation. and the explanation that they ended up providing is one that we now 10, 12 years later can scoff at but at the time huge americans believed because their government and the media told them that. and the answer was the reason they hate us isn't because of anything we've done. the reason they hate us is because we're so free that they hate us for our freedom. that was the genuine answer with a straight face that the u.s. government and then the u.s. media delivered to the population. and what was so extraordinary about that, if you look back on it, is that it was not difficult at all to find out the reason.
there was a long list of grievances that not only the grievances that not only the group that carried out the attack but a huge part of the muslim world hat been openly discussing for many, many years you could have done and read muslim newspapers, you could have visited muslim countries, you could have talked to somebody who was muslim. you could have sought out any of that dialogue and the grievances were all very clear and embedded into the culture for a long time. it wasn't just the u.s. putting troops on what is perceived as holy land in saudi arabia. it was imposing a sanctions regime in iraq that killed children or overthrowing their leaders and propping up some of the most heinous despots and tyrants, such as the one that ruled egypt. or supporting the country of
israel as it engages in all sorts of violence against its neighbors in palestine, lebanon, and elsewhere. this list of grievances was fully aired in that part of the world. and yet remarkably americans didn't just reject the validity. they didn't reach the conclusion that it didn't justify the attacks. they literally were completely unaware of the existence from that dialogue from that part of the world. they had no idea that their government was even doing these things. and that is stunning the fact that for so long critical parts of what the u.s. government were doing in the world were simply suppressed in most u.s. discourse to the point where americans literally did not know the existence of it. if you look at polling data and other surveys of the muslim world versus the western world -- by the muslim world i simply mean predominantly muslim countries, you find radical
differences in how people in that part of the world think about things versus how people in our part of the world think about these things. we like to tell ours that the reason for this disparate view is because they don't have a free press and they're primitive and misled and proagandized. there's all kinds of polling data that shows if you ask people which countries are the greatest threat to world peace, people don't say iran and china and russia and north korea. overwhelmingly they say the greatest threat to world peace are two close allies of canada which is the united states and israel. it may be true in some cases that at some times what explains is that that part of the world is propagandized. but sometimes what explains it
is that we are. i think it's critical to accept that fact and confront it. nobody likes to think of themselves as living in a society that's propagandized. i think the most vid example demonstrating how this works that is a seemingly narrow one but to me very powerful one is one that happened in 2009. in 2009 this woman who is an iranian-american journalist was detained while in iran doing journalism work and the iranian government said they had detained and arrested her because they suspected that she was a spy. she was imprisoned for three months until an iranian court ordered her release on the grounds that there was no evidence to justify her detention. during that three months when she was imprisoned in iran, her cause, her case was one of the most celebrated cases in american media circles. almost every prominent journalist would go on twitter every day and say free her.
there was all this outrage over the idea that look at iran. they're a country that's so tyrannical they actually imprison journalists. and there was indignation and horror over what they had done. and the same thing happened a few months later when north korea imprisoned two journalists and ended up releasing them when al gore went in and visited. huge amounts of anger and indignation that a country could be so tyrannical and imprison journalists. at the same exact time all that was happening the united states government had been imprisonning over two dozen journalists as part of what it calls the war on terror including the case of a of sammy all hawk was an ala jazeera photo journalist who was arrested and detained by the u.s. government when he was crossing into the border of afghanistan to cover the war for al jazeera in late 2001.
he was taken first to the prison in bagram and then guantanamo where he remained for the next six years without being charged with any kind of a crime, given no due process of any kind where he was interrogated overwhelmingly about his work for al jazeera and almost none about anything to do with terrorism or al qaeda. the reason that's so amazing is because the words sammy alhawk were almost never mentioned in american political discourse. to this day americans have no idea that their government imprisoned two dozen journalists as part of the war on terror or kept a journalist imprisoned in guantanamo for six years without any kind of trial. i did a nexus search where i
looked up the word roxanna and found the number of mentions during that three of month period, just three months when she was detained. and it was something like 8,000 mentioned of her name. if you search the name sami al hawk for the seven years that he was kept in guantanamo it is less than 100. i think the number is something like 71. americans have no idea who he is. in the muslim world, however, sami al hawk is a huge celebrity. when he was released it was major headline news all over that part of the world. people know that it isn't just iran and north korea which imprisons journalists but also the united states that does so. it's we in this part of the world from whom that has been largely kept. and this disparity between what our government is doing in the world and what we actually hours are aware of i think is central to so much of what has gone wrong in the post 9/11 erafment
and all of this was the back drop for what i batched this week in canada. and what prompted me. it was the main impetus for me to write the article that i wrote. and i remember the moment that i decided that i had to write about this i was reading a newspaper account of the attack in quebec and i was simultaneously watching canadian television program about it. and the theme of both the article and the television show was the same. the theme is this. people are stunneded that this kind of violence could take place in such a peaceful community like the one where it took place. and i remember thinking that's appealing to think that. it is true it's relatively peaceful. and as you walk around canada over the past five or six years in many cities it seems like a really peaceful country it is when you walk on canadian soil.
all of that is really true. but what isn't true is that the foreign policy of canada is peaceful. policy of canada is not peaceful. and i say that not judgmently. i'll get to that in a moment. for the moment i say that only as a literal observation of fact. we so wish we could by like you this nice-nice peaceful country and there is an extent to which that's not entirely mythical. in just from the obama administration alone in the last six years under president obama this to me is one of the most extraordinary statistics that i've heard.
in the last six years just under president obama who by the way won the 2009 noble peace prize the united states has dropped bombs on 7 different predominantly muslim countries. syria is now the seventh. in addition to a muslim minority in the philippines which is really eight countries that have been bombed just since the inauguration of the 2009 noble peace prize winner. now canada has refrained from much except the war in iraq. but canada is a steadfast partner of the united states in all kinds of violence years of occupation in afghanistan. a bombing campaign of libya. and now what the canadian press itself is calling a new war in iraq which has already spilled over into syria.
now, you may have a lot of different views about all those policies you may believe that those policies are charitable acts of nation building generosity. maybe they are. that's a debate that people can have and have had. but there is a huge part of the world, hundreds of millions of people, that regard those words much, much differently. they see them as acts of aggregs and milt tarism. they see the innocent children and the women and innocent men who are killed continuously by those policies on top of which the participation of canada in things like surveillance or rendition, literally picking up people from around the world including in one case your own citizen and sending them to the world's worse regimes to be tortured. you cannot be a country, you cannot be a country that lets your government engage in milttrism and violence. and that kind of radical yifment and aggression in plultible countries around the world year
and year after year and simultaneously have the expectation that there will never be any violence brought back to the country perpetrating that. and this is not some radical left-wing doctrine that i invented. this concept of what is called below blow back has been c.i.a. doctrine for many decades. if a government engages in military action in a different sovereign country maybe it is not justifiable but it is inevitable that violence will be brought back to that country. there is this remarkable 2004 report that was commissioned by the george push pentagon run by donald rumsfeld given to the defense task force. the commission to ask was, what was ultimately the cause of terrorism? why are there so many people in the world that want to do
violence in the united states? and you can go on line and read it. it seemed as though what i said was somehow controversial it isn't. it is self-evident. the report concluded the key cause of terrorism aimed at americans is "american direct intervention in the muslim world." it then identified three different policies that comprise this direct intervention. one is support for the regions' worst tyrants, giving economic aid and drowning in weapon it is regimes in egypt and saudi arabia. secondly was steadfast support for israel which is viewed as enabling all sorts of aggression in that part of the world. and third was actual wars and occupations principally the invasion of afghanistan. canada plays a role in all of those policies. and what the report concluded --
and this is not me saying this. this is an actual quote. it repudiated the u.s. government's statements to its own citizenry in the wake of 9/11 about why the attack happened. this is what it concluded. muslims do not "hate our freedoms" but rather they hate our policies. it is so tempting, so tempting to see ourselves as victims, as pure and innocent victims. it is. we all want to see ourselves that way. we get to emancipate ourselves from any kind of responsibility or culpability or guilt. it's really tempting to say when our societies are attacked rather than our societies doing the attacking that the reason it happens is because there's this extremist religion in the world or an extremist version of a religion that's just unbearably hateful and irrationally savage and they just want to do violence for its own sake. they hate us for our freedom. that just simply isn't the case. and i think it is our
responsibility as citizens and certainly as journalists to make certain that the dialogue isn't comfortable or flattering. that shouldn't be the goal. the goal should be to make it as rational and fact-based as possible so that we're not actually susceptible to manipulation. so i just want to talk about one other point about the events of this week and how critical i think it is in this dynamic. and this is a little uncomfortable to talk about but again i think it's probably a sign that it's really worth talking about. i have spent three or four days now like everybody else in this country watching unbelieveably difficult to watch footage of the family members of the two soldiers who were killed, one in each of the attacks. and i've learned their names and i've learned what their life aspirations were. i've seen their parents grieving on the screen or their siblings.
it is incredibly horrific and emotional and tragic to watch. and i've gone through that exact same thing with all other canadians. but the thing that i find very significant about that and we should be focused on the victims that way. but what i find really significant about that is that over the past 12 years my government especially but also yours has done all kinds of things that has resulted in the horrific deaths of innocent people throughout the world. thousands of children, women, and innocent men. and i would be willing to bet almost anything that over 99.9% of americans and 99.9% of canadians are completely incapable of identifying the name of a single one of those victims. we know nothing about the life aspirations about the people of our government whose lives they
end. we don't hear from their grieving mothers or siblings. they are literally disappeared from our public discourse. in some sense this is just natural human behavior. we care more and pay more attention when our neighbor gets killed in a car accident than we do someone thousands of miles away is killed. that's in some sense natural human interaction with the world. but when it comes to public policy it's a real dangerous thing to have that kind of a one-sided perspective on the world. that then leads us to believe that there is this ideology out there that's evil and savage and kills innocent people in the most horrific and tragic ways and we are nothing more than the innocent victims who are the buy standers of it because we allow ourselves to suppress the implications of our own actions and the things that cause it. so i think the reason that for me it's so important to talk about these things is twofold. one is that i think we become
much more susceptible to the kind of fear mongering that the canadian government has already i and engaged in, that western governments uniformly engage in to manipulate our emotions to get us to acwes the thing that you is prime minister harper is prime minister harper: called greater police powers of in and you surveillance detention and arrest, or even talk about the conservatives in parliament want to introduce a bill to criminalize anything that is perceived as endorsing or legitimizing terrorist attacks on something that was particularly alarming for me because although i didn't actually say it a lot of people falsely claimed that i did, that i was justifying the attack by talking about the things that i'm talking about tonight. that's extreme and radical. we become more susceptible to that kind of manipulation when we don't face the reality of what our own governments do.
but the more important reason to confront these facts i believe is because it's really easy to look back at past generations and to make judgments and condemnations about what they did and the reasons why they made all kinds of evil choices and to have clarity about the path that they embarked on. and it is extremely difficult to do that to ourselves. but i think it's worth trying to imagine what the next generation or future generations will think about what it is that we're doing. and i think it is undoubtedly true, uncontra vertably the case that future generationless look back certainly at the united states but also at key allies and say that in the wake of 9/11 the u.s. and its allies embarked upon a path of endless war. they put themselves in a mindset and in a policy approach that guaranteed not a long war but a war that had no end. and the reason i say that is because the pattern of what has happened is so clear over 13 years and so clear this week,
which is we do something in that part of the world that generates all sorts of rage and fury rightly or wrongly. that causes a tiny percentage of people in that world who want to bring violence back to us. we immediately demand our government further erode civil liberties and engage in even more milt tarism which in turn inflames that part of the world more and causes more violence to be brought back to us in a never-ending spiral. how do people think we're ever going to be able to get off that path if each time one of these attacks happen our reaction is the same? i think there's two critical points worth thinking about in terms of that process. one is that the mere existence of a successful attack is not evidence that government policy was flawed. the mere existence of a terrorist attack doesn't show
that the government should change its policy. you could have the most perfect government policy, the perfect calibration of privacy and security or freedom and security, and still have terrorist attacked. you cannot have a society in which absolute safety is the goal. it isn't achieveable. and trying to achieve it will create so many worst harm than the failure to have it in the first place. we allow that all the time when we see a fatal car accident we don't start immediately demanding that our government the speed limit or change its policies. we accept that in exchange for the benefits of having automobiles we're going to have the risk of death and sometimes people are going to die. it's intrinsic to the process. it's unavoidable and it can't be solved. we don't demand that the speed mile be reduced to three miles an hour in order to evade fatality. we should be thinking the same thing about terrorism.
this is the crucial fact. even after this week and even if there are weeks and weeks more of weeks like this one in the year ahead or the two years ahead, if you are a canadian citizen, if you're canadian you have a greater chance of dying by flip slipping in the bathtub and hitting your head on the cement or getting struck by lightning than you do dying in a terrorist attack. that's just factly the case. >> all kinds of pervasive mass the last point, this word terrorism itself. in all the things i've written
from, every single issue, killing people who use names you don't know, to drones, to government secrecy, the government use one word to justify eveyrthing they do -- terrorism. this is the most consequential word in our political vocabulary. what is really amazing about that fact is it is simultaneously a word that does not have you didn't fixed meaning. you cannot provide any definition of terrorism. you cannot find scholars who can give you what that definition of that word means. there is a famous supreme court case in the united states where the supreme court justices grappled over the word "obscenity" because pornography in the united states is legal,
but obscenity isn't. the supreme court justices had them define obscenity. when does something cross the line? and the supreme court justice very famously said, well, all i can say about obscenity is, i can't define it, but i know it when i see it, which is a really kind of alarming way for our first amendment freedoms to be defined based upon this kind of ding tingly sensation. >> that's the same way terrorism is talked about. it was remarkable, the incidents in quebec, according to the government's own version of events, the perpetrator of that crime waited for two hours in his car in order to find a soldier in uniform and attack that soldier. now, whatever terrorism means -- and it's impossible to define, but the one common usage that it typically has is: it requires the deliberate targeting of civilians with violence for
political end. yet here is somebody who seems to have deliberately avoided targeting civilians and targeted a soldier instead. clearly illegal and unjustified. this was not a soldier deployed in war but in what sense is that terrorism? or if you have somebody who has the -- as the ottawa shooter who seems to be driven at least by mental instability as much as religion or ideology, in what sense that that turns out to be the case is that tear sflichl i terrorism. i think what this shows is that the word "terrorism," as significant as it's become has no meaning other than violence engaged in by muslims against the west. it's really just a term of legitmize the kind of violence that we do, ourselves and to de delegitmize the violence that is used against us. when you think about it in that way, it should have far different consequences than it
has now when it comes to be applied without anybody rereally think being what it is. so the last point i just want to leave you with fully, and then i will talk to jessie, is not quite about the events of this week directly. it's actually about the last year and a half work that i have been able to do with edward snowden and i want to share with you one particular lesson that i learned from the last year and a half that i try and impart to everybody wherever i go and whatever i am speaking about, because to me, it was a really profound lesson. it's something that will influence me for the rest of my life. when i first talked to edward sdmoen, the very first conversation that i ever had with him was online, and i knew nothing about him. i didn't know his name. i didn't know how old he was i didn't even know in which agency he worked. but what i did know was he had
claimed to have an enormous amount of extremely sensitive material from the most secretive agency in the world, the most powerful government and that he wanted to give that to me. and usually, when you have somebody who comes forward, even with a tiny fraction of what he had to give you information that the law says they are not allowed to give you, they want to hide. they want to be protected. they want to remain anonymous because they fear the consequences of being discovered. edward snowden said exactly the opposite thing to me. he said, i don't want to hide. i don't intend to hide. i intend once i give you this material to come forward into the world and publiidentify myself as the source and to explain to the world why it is that i did what i did and to explain my reasoning and motives of why i think it's the right thing to do. he said, i do think it's the right thing to do. and, therefore, i don't feel a need to hide. and when i got to hong kong, i remember before i got there, i had this mental image of what he was like. i am sure you all have had that experience when you interact
with someone on the internet, a mental image and never ever anything what he is like. i thought he was in his 60s or 70s. he was 29. he looks like at that computer geek that wonders the mall or is in a college laboratory and i spent a lot of time with him trying to understand his motives for why he would want to unravel his life and come forward knowing it would probably mean he would go to prison for the rest of his life. and what i finally, understood about those motives was that he had discovered something, that he believed was a profound injustice. and knew that he had the ability to do something about it. and what he said to me was: if i confront this injustice and know that i can do something about it and decide not to, that will produce severe pain. i will have to live with that on
my conscience for the rest of my life, and the pain of having to do that is so much worse, he said, than anything the u.s. government could do to him, including putting him in to prison for decades. and the reason why that is so stunning to me and why it has so profound willing affected how i look at pretty much everything is because edward snow den is the most ordinary and unremarkable person you will ever meet. he came from a lower middle class background. his father was in the coast guard for 30 years. he grew up without a sled of position or power or prestige and even when he decided to do what he did, he was just toiling away in obscureity in this maven national security corporation. and a fearless commitment to the political principles he said he believed in, he changed the world.
he did. he literally changed the world. he transformed how hundreds of millions of people around the world think about a vast array of issues. he altered the debate about who we are and what kinds of rights we have in the digital age and the relationship of individuals to the state and to states to one another and the role of journalnism society. all kinds of implications. some of this we know. most of which we probably don't. and one of the things that i have encountered from the first moment that i began writing about politics 10 years ago, not just about myself, is the kind of temptation of defeatism, like it's very easy to look at all of these policies and all of these complexities and say the institutions that are responsible are so enormous and so powerful that there is nothing that i, as an individual, can possibly do to change it. it's kind of a mindset of resignation.
>> that's some senses almost pleasant because it relieves you of the obligation to act. and yet there are so many examples throughout history of really ordinary people, powerless, ordinary people engaging in similar acts of conscious whether it's rosa parks refusing to sit at the back of the bus and sparking this unbeliefvabley civil rights or a tun easeian street vendor and sparking a conflagration against the world's entrenched tyrants. what i have learned from working with edward snowden that you see from some of these other examples is that any institution built by human beings, any institution buildt by human beings no matter how formidable or powerful it seems can always be attacked and reformed and changed or even destroyed and replaced by even the most ordinary human beings as long as the will and the conviction and the passion is there. and to me, that is a critical
lesson to keep in the frornt in all of our minds all the time. with that, i thank you all very much [applause.] >> thank you. [applause] >> thank you. >> water? >> sure. thank you. so we are going to have a conversation for a while, and then we are going to turn it over to some questions for from the crowd. there are microphones. there is a microphone here i think that, and another one in
the back. ok. so we will start a line-up toward the end of our conversation. i will give you a word. thank you, glen. it's true that canadiens were shocked to learn that we were spying on brazil for industrial purposes. but we were not shocked by the revelations, we were not shocked enough to learn that we had welcomed the nsa here during the g8 and g20 or that spying through wi-fi connections. maybe that's why we are canadians and it's inpolite to spy on brazil and that's embarrassing to us in a way that to the government, it's not. i have heard we're not like americans who are really adamant about their rights. we are more deferential to
power. and that's why the reaction here has been muted whereas in the united states, your revelations with edward snowden have prompted the president to actually modify whether that's 15ingful or -- meaningful or not, but had to modify. we get into this cushion about the canadian psyche and i am screaming throughout all of this, we don't know as much as they do. they know about verizon. they know about prism and we don't know in any conclusive terms whether or not our spy agency, whether or not our government is spying on us. and you do know something about that. you know more about what our government is doing. and doing in our name and it may be doing to us than anybody in our audience here today. so there are many question i have but no question before this
is dsec spying on canadiens? >> well, we have already done stories, a story in particular that demonstrates that the answer to that question is yes, the story that you rememberance, the story of cces tracking people who land at international airports in canada and tracking them as they leave and use wi-tu fi kepingsz which includes canadians. i think it's important to understand that there really is no such thing as canadian spying. canada spies as part of the five eyes alliance. this is notable principally because of how indid i have i -- and how indivisible it is. whatever reporting we have done about the nsa and about gchq necessarily includes canada as well. you know, i do think it's important to realize that edward snowden was working inside of an american surveillance agency. and so the vast, vast, vast bulk of the documents he took were not documents about csec. they were documents about the dchq. there is information about csec,
spying on canadians on canadian soil and there will be more report ok those questions to come. the reporting is complicated. you have the responsibility to do it right and to make sure that your reporting is accurate. and we are being careful in that regard. but we are also reporting it as quickly as we can and all i can say is there are very significant revelations left to report with dad canada. >> i think the difference to what happened with the nsa is the message to americans was, verizon, the company that you communicate through all the time are indiscriminately spying on massive amounts of people, bulk surveillance and i think that here, we had a situation where people were able to say, well, i don't even know what airport that was and then we have a government equivocating it's meta data and it isn't data. it's data about data and csec in what was an exercise and the csec commissioner saying no laws were broken. it is highly consequential that
makes it undeniable that csec is spying on canadians because they are forbidden by law from doing so. so is there anything you can tell us about whether we can anticipate that kind of revelation? >> i think first of all you need a canadian edward snowden. who is inside of csec or the canadian national security apparatus and takes the documents that you are eager, understandably to look at and make public through journalists or through some other way. so, i hope that happens. >> i will intrupt to say if you are out there, canadian journalists. >> jessiebrown at gmail.com. >> i think that i actually do think that one of the most consequential consequences he will inspire other people, in partner companies to come forward. i learned a lesson a long time ago that i am not going to preview the reporting that we are doing because what ends up
happening is if i sit here and preview reporting and i say, yes, we have documents that show x, y, and z from the time that i get back to my hotel room until the day that i die, i am going to be deluged with e-mails and tweets saying, where are these documents? when you go through the reporting process for a reason, you want to make sure that what you are reporting is true. i am going to wait for the reporting to happen. all i can tell you is that there is, as you know, stories in the worked on those questions. they will be reported in good time. >> you are such a tease. you have been telling us we had big stuff coming for months and months and months. how big? what's the timeline? >> not going to play 20 questions. doesn't do any good. >> with all due respect to the process you go through to report this stuff responsibly -- and i can understand as i think everything does here why you would do so -- there are other factors that
have inhibited your ability to report these stories, and we are not talking about stuff that has to come from canadian edward snow den but stuff that came from edward snowden. your experience which we have talked about with the canadian press has been a little troubled. and you described your relationship, furtive relationship with the global mail, a bad experience that you had and resistance to the bbc for months and months after a very strong start when three stories were aggressive reported, it's been quickened since then. you told me that it has to do -- i think we have to get specific here -- with a reporter at the cbc who actually was ideologically opposed to your reporting this stuff. >> right. >> do you want to say the name? >> terri melesky. >> i let him do the dirty work. >> i think it's a mixed bag because, as he said, we did several stories with the cbc in compression with greg weston who is a faventastic reporter and a couple of vendors there who were
very aggressive and stood steadfast behind the story and did not cap it late to government pressure. one went to be the editor in chief and greg left and we were given a new journalist with whom to work and this individual seems to belief mass surveillance is a good thing, which he is entitled to think, i guess, and that, therefore, doesn't -- he doesn't think it should be reported because he believes canadians wants csec to do these things. that was the hold-up. the cbc has said, you know, we want you to have journalists who are committed to the reporting, and i feel like we are getting those now. so, yeah, there have been problems in the relationship. let me just say, you know, when
-- just so you understand the process, the documents that we are talking about, that we reported on around the world and that we are talking about now are in the eyes of these governments among the most sensitive material they have because it shows how they invade our privacy on the internet and they don't want anybody knowing, a, how they do it and b, how they do it. so when they learn that media outlets are going to report on these documents or publish these documents, they apply extreme amounts of pressure to these media organizations to try and bully and intimidate and scare them out of publishing them. they say if you publish these documents, you are going to help terrorists evade our detection and that will cause the death of innocent people and the blood will be on your hands. now, good journalists and good editors know that governments say that in every case when they want to hide what they are doing. and so you ignore it unless they have something specific.
not everyone is a good aertd and a good journalist. some get scared. >> has held up good reporting in a lot of countries around the world. the editor in chief of the global mail told me that's what he was told when he was about to release the documents. it's a matter of life or death and that was revealed to be bullshit and by then, we have moved up. we are waiting for that ah-ha moment and the ability for the system to put thins under the rug and i don't want to put everything on terri melesky, cbc was their point of contact with you. nothing was coming out. so, i don't know what was happening there. terri now says to the information you have given me that he was ideologically opposed. he has suggested very strongly on twitter that that is bullshit and that the story is bullshit
and can we put that to rest here? >> yeah. i will just say that, you know, you can go on twitter and call a story bullshit is not very convincing. i mean i don't feel a need to refute that. the story is absolutely true. there is evidence for it. and the proof ultimately is in the pudding but the reporting hasn't come. >> i will follow you up on the evidence. who are you working with now? i realize i have made things really awkward now canada since you have been here talking to c become c, who i think tried to kiss and make up with you since what happened. i'm sorry if i made things weird. but who is going to report this stuff with you? >> first of all, you know, i think that, you know, i have spent a long time talking about the role of journalists. and i think the role of journalists is to hold people in positions of power or influence accountable and that includes large media outlets which play a really significant role. yeah, as anointing as you have been the whole week and as uncomfortable that you made for my relationship with other journalists, i think you did the
right thing. i think the public has a right to know when media outlets are being bullied by the government or if there are other corruptive influences from preventing the public from knowing but we are working with the global mail and the cbc and i think the problems have been largely fixed. i hope and expect there to be good reporting coming soon. consistent with this idea of holding powerful people accountable as the person who has -- and not the only person but as a person who has these, you are a powerful person, and, you know, it's unfortunate some of the other people have some of these files are not sharing with anyone, and that is shameful, but because you are working with journalists, these questions fall to you. i suppose that's your burden. so, i do have to ask you some questions to hold you
accountable and a question was actually posed by ron bebert of the citizen lab who said he is puzzled by the process by which you choose journalists to work with and it lacks transparency. i won't ask you necessarily to account for that, but you did item me in a previous conversation that things are changing in terms of how the intercept and you are working because there is a very slow process, especially when we don't have as rigorous, robust a press in canada as in the states where there are so many eyes on us so quickly. if you get into a bad relationship with the media source, months can go by. tell us as much as you can about steps you are taking to make things go a little faster. >> i think amount of people who don't really have any idea about what the processes is often voice opinions, nonetheless, about what it entails, which i think is a natural thing to do because there are a lot of -- there is a lot of interest in the story and so people rightly want more documents to come. the archives that we have is vast and complex. and it pertains to pretty much every country on earth in ways that take a long time for even the most technically adept people to process and understand.
other times, there are stories that are partially in the archives but not entirely. and it takes a lot of reporting and a lot of work to piece them together in the right way. i think that the -- what's really remarkable is how many documents we have been able to disclose around the world in the time that we have been able to do it especially since we have a duty to our -- not just the public to make sure what we are report something correct so we are not misleading people but also to our source, who you know f edward snowden wanted just a really fast and indisriminate publication of these documents, he wouldn't have needed to come to me. he would have just uploaded it to the internet, i himself. he came to us and specifically said i want you meticulously to
vet the material and to make sure every story that's published is in the public interest and doesn't risk innocent lives. >> that's a burden i take very seriously, both as al journalist and in my obligation to my source. but we do feel an obligation to get the stories reported more quickly. so one of the things we are doing, there are a as you said, big media outlet times like the guardian and washington post and they will hold on to those documents and it may be one day report them and it may be one day they won't. but what we are doing is, we want to put the story ahead of our own competitive interests our proprietary interests over the documents so we have created a system in new york that is almost ready where journalists from around the world are going to be able to come and work with the archive so that we substantially maximize the number of journalists who are able to work with it, find stories and do reporting. we think that will expedite the
reporting process by letting media outlets have at it and we think it will make the reporting a lot better as well. >> just so people can visualize this, this is like a human size mini frig where peek cannot download files, but it's line a library where journalists can vet the files. >> yes. >> this will be debued soon? >> pardon? >> this is almost ready, you say? >> almost ready, correct. >> ok. the word burden comes up a lot. i can't imagine how your life must have changed and incredible pressures. you are not an institution though i understand you are building some institutional facilities but you are one guy who has become the magnet for 2 countries have been in photocopy report this stuff. all of the stuff that isn't known yet. does it feel like a burden snen and are you ready for it to be off of your shoulders? >> i mean sure, it is a burden when there is a lot of is responsibility of about being a principle guardian of how this gets distributed. you have the able to to take make certain that material that might endanger people's lives is reported responsibly but then
you also have this corresponding burden to make sure the material gets out quickly you have a duty to your source to make sure the process goes in the way he asked it to be conducted and that you agreed to. on top of which, there are pressures and threats of doing reporting like this. there was a long time when i couldn't travel back to the united states because the government was continuously threatening to harass us. they detained my partner. there is a criminal investigation in the u.k. about that. he got stalked and criticized in lots of ways. you go into journalism to do a story like this. i have been working on these issues for a long time. so the ability to have, first of all, the evidence finally, to show that all of the stuff i have been saying and others have been saying about the surveillance state is true. we can kick a huge hole in the wall of secrecy. it's incredibly gratifying. the platform i have to go talk
ing about these issues is valuable to me. so, yeah, it's been burdened, costly but journalists around the world have burdens with all kind of things they do. it's the nature of good journalism. if you say you want to challenge people who wield power, the nature of doing that is that they can do things to you because of the way you are defying or challenging them. >> that's intrinsic to the process. if you are not prepared to accept that, journalism is probably not the thing you should do. >> i almost watched that you have becomeand the stories bear out and there is a legitmization and the pulitzer prize and you come to canada and our top journalists welcome you with open a ways. -- open arms.
>> not all. >> but you are almost becoming respectable? >> it's scary. you know, it was funny. i was invited to do the monk debates here in toronto, i guess, six months ago. >> you are fancy. >> it's very high-end, the two people i was debating were alan durschwitz. precisely and general michael hayden, the director of the cism a and nsa under the bush administration. i gave an interview to stephanie noland on the day before i left for toronto to do the debates and talking about the serious crisis of con since i was having a dash of conscience i was having. when you get invited to these kind of event did, you are expected to be like very civil, you know, like, before the debate, they have this cocktail party and a chandeliered rooms and shake hands with your
adverse areas and i don't have any respect for alan durschowitz or michael hayden. [applause] hayden is a war criminal. he belongs in the hague. truly, like he implemented a system of torture. so, it does brig up those kinds of conflicts, you know, i actually, it was funny i gave this quote where i said i am having a hard time shaking their hands becausety receive them to -- consider them to be the most pernicious people on the planet. the quote was i am debating two of the most pernicious people on the planet. i didn't speak to them. i didn't shake hands with them.
you want to maintain your outsider status and there are these temptations when you get cliented into these kind of regularal halls where it's expected you are supposed to change your behavior in exchange for getting admission to these clubs. that is the process of co-option. even if you are committed to resistanting it, it's a potent process. >> hasit hasn't been a problem yet, but i will look out for that personally. one question that came from partners at open immediatemedia and if people who have questions will start to line up, we will turn this into a bit more of a conversation. ian 0 'sullivan has a question i would love to ask you: why doesn't snowden use sfwhook he would be huge on social immediatemedia. so why isn't snowden on any of the platforms? >> he doesn't use facebook because he hates facebook. they are one of the worst violators of privacy, you know,
in history. that would be really weird. nobody should use facebook. but i have actually encouraged him to use twitter as a means of having a platform where he can speak and the reality is, is that he has one of the really interesting things about the way he has been able to construct his life is, you know, in the united states, the word russia brings people into seizures of hysteria feel, like 1958. always 1958 in the united states when it comes to russia and people say, he's in russia which means he is condemned to this life of dankness and dark mezre. -- missouri. -- misery. the reality is we thought he was going to end up in an american prison for the rest of his life although we didn't choose russia, being there has enabled him to give interviews and write columns and he has become an important voice in the debates he helped to catlize. he is happy.
there may be one day when he ends up on twitter. >> it seems like he should be out and mixing it up with everybody a little bit more than he is. >> it's a little bit difficult when you actually can't leave the country when one of the world's most powerful governments considers you afuge i you will be to be a little bit careful. >> sure. >> he tends to live his life online. before anyone new he hadedward snowden is what he did anyway. >> we will get to as much of this as we can. i have a feeling we are not going to be able to get to all of the questions. everyone please keep your questions brief and make sure that they are, in fact, questions. a gentlemen here. >> a lot of americans i know seem to have drawn a distinction between stories about the government spying on them, which was intention intention lee debatable andtories about the america agency spying on other governments which they kind of expected was happening and they kind of wanted to see happen and
i wonder how you draw that distinction. >> you can look at the story. in four broad categories, nsa spying on its own citizens. then there are stories about the nsa nsa spying on foreign populations indiscriminately, putting entire populations under a surveillance microscope. then there are stories about the nsa spying on friendly governments like the president of brazil or the president of the chancellor of germany and then there are stories about the nsa spying on adversarial countries like china or iran or pakistan. there is this sense in the united states unsurprisingly that the only legitimate stories are the ones about the nsa spying on their own citizens, on americans, and we have done a lot of reporting about the nsa spying on foreign populations. sne deny once asked about this.
i say all the time, the idea that the only privacy that matters is that the privacy of americans,ch and the rest world, which happens to be 95% that's not americans, that their privacy is irrelevant, so irrelevant is actually grotesque. snowden was adamant from the start that he regarded internet privacy as being the privacy of individuals around the world regardless of nationalalty to eyes enter the from without monitoring and invasion. the debate about spying on the government is a valid one. i do think the stories about spy ok democratically elected leaders of allied countries has been significant because a lot of people don't think the nsa should be doing that or any government should do that. >> that's debatable. i have stayed away from stories about the u.s. government spying on adverse satisfactory governments because that, i
don't think, is all of that interesting. there has been report ok that for years. i don't think that surprises anybody. >> that's how i evaluate the categories. >> thank you. next question? >> you spoke a little bit about how intelligence agencies are to some degree ince suliated from the exercise because people are not made aware. short of waiting for someone to leave documents, how do you suggest that we go about establishing meaning fy public oversight over a runaway intelligence committee? >> i think public awareness is a prerequisite and one of the things is that there have always been certain afterverages that -- certain avenues that have existed for information to get to the public that the government doesn't want to get to the public. and there have been really a war on those avenues. in particular in particular, i will give you an example as a statistic. under president obama, there
have been now seven prosecutions of whistleblowers or sources people who give information to journalist that the government doesn't want out under this 1917 statute called the espy onnage act. in all of american history prior to president obama, there were a grand total of three cases, three prosecutions. he has more than doubled the number just in his six years of these kind of prosecutions as compared to every other president prior to him combined. what this is about is about trying to shut off every valve that exists for any information to get to the public other than the information that the government chooses to get to the public. and information -- if you live in a state where the only information that gets to the public is information that the government chooses to get to the public, you live in a state of propaganda by definition. when you say other than people leaking documents or whistleblowers, what can be done? i don't think anybody can be done other than whistleblowers and unauthorized disclosures. there may be other ways to do
it. not everybody who leaks to journalists does it by taking tens of thousands of top secret documents and handing them over on a thumb drive in hong kong. sometimes people call up a reporter and give tidbits of information. this is a crucial process to save democracy. we have to know what our government is doing beyond what they want us to do in order to have democracy to be meaning of course that's why the whistleblowers and this process of disclosures is so critical. >> thanks very much. >> yes. hello. i would like to begin by saluting your courage and your intellectual honesty. >> thank you? >> and salute the absolute humiliation you inconflicted on the vulgar zinist propagandaists and bill mahr on his show
."realtime." [applause.] >> i may be using harsh words in referring to bill mahr. but this is what i think of him. i don't know what you think of him? >> i concur with your description. >> but i would like to know that an individual such as him who presents himself as a liberal and as a progressive, the kind of -- shares many of the similar views on american foreign policies as the right-wing pundits in the united states, i would like to know what kind of influence an individual like him has or how does he resonate within the lib calls of the u.s. -- liberal class. if there is such a thing. >> it's a good but complicated question. there was this article today in the "boston globe" by this author who has a new book. the principle point of which was that it doesn't matter who wins elections. the national security state will continue to get its way exactly as they want no matter who wins. and i know from having gone all in a over the world speakingn
and and doing reporting on the will and doing reporting on the nsa file, by far the biggest kind of question that people ask and it's not even a question at this point. it's more a realization is that people around the world everywhere for a long time loved president obama because they viewed him as this vehicle for fundamental change from all of the things that they thought had gone wrong with the united states and the behavior in the world. not just from spying but from the escalation of drones to the escalation of the face of the united states. people see there has been no rad cat change. there has been almost none. in a lot of cases, it has gotten worse. the point of this to that realization is that there is almost a full-scale consensus in the american political class both on the right and the left about the propriety of these policies and the way in which the u.s. has been conducting itself in the world so that you even have so-called liberals
like bill mahr or this new class of they call themselves new ath iests. supposedly they are these white westerners who fantasize how they are going to lead muslims out of the bondage of islam in the name of liberal values and the likely who spend almost all of their time railing against the evils of muslims in exactly the way that i, say, followers of dick cheney would. so you have this convergentions of conservatism and liberalism in the united states that very much supports this posture of endless war and all of the policies that enable and support it. and i mean if you look at for example, hillary clinton who i think most people agree will probably be the next president, she wrote a book pretty harshly criticizing president obama andhe she didn't criticize him for bombing too many muslim countries. she criticized him for not bombing enough. almost all of her criticisms of him were that he was too dovish
and too peace oriented and not being willing enough to use violence in that part of the world or not steadfastly supporting israel. there is this consensus. you shouldn't be fooled by accurate versus republican or liberal. i can't he is mouthing the kind of ethos into which he is connected. >> thanks very much. >> i am really nervous. i looked through the room a dozen times to make sure no one i know is here. john cook used to follow me on twitter. i think i had him convinced for a long time that he was going to be charged for extortion for his involvement with the crack video. so, if you see him, just tell him i say hi. >> does he follow you? >> no. he eventually unfollowed but probably just because i have like tweet mostly about girly stuff. but i was working ok karen mckrifin's liberal leadership
campaign. she rans against us which i tweeted you about but i am not sure you got a chance to tweet it because it was disjointed. i won't go into the details of it but she worked in over 70 different country tries. -- countries. she has worked on dozens of classified missions. she worked at nato and we could not get her any press in canada at all. it was like a trueeudeau. she put up $80,000 of her own money to try to run up against trudeaux. if we could have got the march march 3rd deadline, we might have had a shot of pulling in people who would have voted conservative to vote for her. while i was working on her video, my my video editing software was hacked by a chinese -- i am still not sure if it was chinese government or if it was chinese ip address. it was a chinese ip address.
that's all i know so far right now. i haven't turned the hard ride over to the mp because i don't know if i should. but long story short, i am now actually on bail for harassment for something unrelated. so, i guess my question is who do you think spies more? the police, domestic police, because in my trial is coming up in january. i am going to find out more. but i actually found out some of the stuff they did even in my case, the supreme court has now ruled you are not supposed to be getting ip addresses directly from the service providers. like, yeah, i guess in your experience, have you found that the police, themselves, domestic police, themselves are more per advice evasive in terms of spy techniques or the federal levels or national levels? >> thank you for that question because it provokes what i think is a really important and under appreciated development which is, you know, people who have
been writing about and talking about what we call the war on terror for a decade or so have been mostly condemning certain kinds of abuses that have been perpetrated by the u.s. and its allies in other distant parts of the world aimed at foreign populations. and one of the things that you see vary kind of rapidly now is the importation of a lot of these what werear and terror policies into how the government interacts with its citizen redomestdidcally. at least certainly in the united states. if you look at the nsa's mass surveillance program, that was actually a program that was pioneered in baghdad in the population that was brought on to u.s. soil. if you look at drones, which were once flown exclusively over places like yemen and somalia, police departments in canada, i
believe, as well are using drones for surveillance. you saw that protest in the ferguson, missouri over police brutality were americans were shocked because there were tanks on the streets. that is para militarization that american police departments used to use. would be used to use against the foreign population and are now being used against the domestic population. once you start to endorse this mindset that certain kinds of policies are acceptable aimed at bad people, it is inevitably the case it will be brought into the domestic realm. so if you endorse the idea that agencies can go around the world invading people's privacy to stop bad people from doing bad things, there is no reason why that will ultimately not be brought into your own country and aimed at your domestic population. i think you see that on almost every realm on the war on terror. >> thank you.
i think we have to be out. we are going to take two more questions so the next two people, i apologize. glen is pretty good in terms of following up with people. he is pretty accessible. >> during the wednesday attacks, i walked all around ottawa downtown, you know, as far as i -- as close as i could get along the police lines and so, stuck around most of the day and i did -- and about 2:00 in the morning i did a self-io, a selfie video and i was talking about misguided fear, terrorism versus climate change because climate change is the issue that people, if people understood the threats as much as the scientific community is starting to, they would realize climate change is the issue that is not going to go away. the extreme weather events that are causing $6 million,000,000
-- $6 million, or 6 billion dollars of damage until calgary, a billion in toronto. this is only going to get more frequent, more extreme. so could you search through your files on climate change and release all of that information sooner than later? [applause.] >> you are getting a little taste of what my life has been like for 16 months. you have over here somebody demanding that i release files on one topic and somebody over here demanding on a different topic. we have done some reporting on climate change including spying on climate conferences where countries got together to negotiate accord. but i would say two things. one is, i think it's important to understand and i realize the temptation is to just close your eyes and fantasize about what you wish would come in the world and assume i have it and that i can release it at any moment. but edward snowden work in --
worked in one particular agency of the u.s. government and one part of that agency rand was taking documents illicitly. he had to take them where he could get them. so, he took a lot but he didn't take documents on every topic. and, you know, i guess i could tell you if there were documents that were relevant on climate change, they would have been reported on already. the other thing i would say is, you know, i think we should be careful about ever saying this is the issue because there are short-term harms and long-term harms and how you weigh , you know, pervasive starvation or child -- children suffering from lethal diseases that are curable against climate change, i think, is difficult, but i agree with your core point completely which is that human beings are very bad at evaluating risk. i know, you know, people in the u.s., i know them personally, i
mean, walk around petrified about the terrorism threat and yet they text all of their friends while they are driving. and it's like, you know, that is so much more likely to kill you than terrorism, but, you know, i think one of the things that you see and i think you see it this week. and i tried talking about this with a couple of people in canada and it's hard to talk about, but we are tribunal -- tribal creatures. and what terrorism does is it triggers this tribal instinct in us which is that we collectively, our group have been attacked. you know, i think that is why you see it of canadians that are well intentioned, nonetheless waving canadian flags and talking about it like it's an attack on democracy. it's this occurring processes, othrineringng --
processes, other people different from us who have attacked us collectively. that's a powerful instinct we as human beings have for all kind of evolutionary reasons. and that's why we respond to it more than the distant and scientific threat of climate change even though from every metric rationally, climate change is much, much more threatening. it's the thing we have to guard against is this kind of deliberate manipulation of the make-up of our instinct and emotional constitution because that is how we get led to evaluating the world irrationally. and i think you see that this week. >> thank very much. last question. >> pleasure to be able to ask you a question. glenn greenwald, i have been following your work ever since arrived inter he hong kong. my question actually is about love. one of the things i found remarkable in reading over some
of snowden's statements, i spy, he talks about love, he says, i don't want to live in a world where we can't express love, creativity and have relationships online. this took me as really out of place come from a person who is very intelectual, brainy and nerdy and who talks about encryption a lot and uses a lot of abstract terms to talk about what et cetera doing. he doesn't very often get to the heart of things. but this sort of struck me as being the heart of his motivation. i wonder if maybe you could just say a few words about that. i know it moves a long way from the political but i think it's at the heart of our political relationships with each other is that our relationships, our friendships, ability to be able to do what we are doing for you -- doing right now. [applause.] is -- i think it's profound and insightful about snowden's motivations in a way that's not easy to apprehend.
and, that is a fascinating topic to me. i will for the moment say i gave a ted talk, i think a month ago, in brazil which you can find where it really easily talked about this, this idea that if you are not one of the bad people, the people plotting terrorist attacks or engaging in violent crimes, if you are a good person, like a person who goes to work and comes home and raises your kids and watches t.v., that you are not doing bad things. and therefore you don't really care if the government is invading your privacy because you don't think they are really interested in what it is that you are doing. and i talked about the critical central role that privacy plays in the lives of all of us and not just people who are doing bad things. like committing terrorism and the like. when i was in hong kong, as i said earlier, it was critical for me to understand the motive that led snowden to do what he
did because i wanted to make certain that i wasn't participating in unravelling somebody's life who hadn't given extremely careful and deep thoughts to why this was worth doing. and i asked him at many many times over the course of hours and then days for this explanation of why was this worth it to him? he had a stable life. he had a girlfriend who loved him. he had a lucrative career. he had a family that was supportive, a great life in hawaii. why was he willing to throw this all away in pursuit of this abstract political ideal? and he gave me a lot of answers that weren't quite per basesi to -- persuasive to me until you talked about what -- until he talked about what you just raised. and he said growing up the way he grew up which was pretty poor. he didn't even finish high school. and he grew up in this cloisterred superb in northern virginia near the industrial -- military-industrial complex,
that he had a very kind of narrow world, and the internet is what let him explore not only the world but other people and ultimately, himself. he could speak to people around the world with whom he would never otherwise communicate. he could experiment with ideas that he would never be willing to express if it were attached to his name. he would try out different personalities and identities. all of which was possible exclusively because he was able to do it in a realm of privacy . and he said he didn't want to live in a worlded where that was -- world where that was lost. he wasn't willing to live in that world. the reason it was something i gave attention to the last year and a half, as human beings, i think our own human experience proves it even more, when we think that we are being watched, our behavior changes radically.
we become more conformist, much more compliant. we make choices that are the by-product not of our agency but of the expectations and mandates of social orthodoxy and convention. and it is really only in this private realm where we can explore intimacy and love and friendship and different ways of thinking and being and creativity in defense resides in this realm of privacy where we can act without other eyes being cast upon us and making judgment . and that is something that was crucial to snowden's evolution as a person. the ability to have this private realm online. where so many people, especially younger ones, do not just buy books and make travel resservations but develop who they are as people and make human connections. all of that is severely crippled , if not completely
destroyed, when we live in a world of mass surveillance where the internet is converted to a place where we can be watched and monitored and that's what makes what you said so insightful is, yeah he talks , about encryption and talks about surveillance technologies, but ultimately, it would was a deeply human perspective that drove him to do what he did, deeply noble and selfless . because he wanted these connections that could be made exclusively in a world where there is privacy that continue to flourish and he knew that's what was being destroyed and that more than anything, i think, is what drove him to do what he did. excellent observation. thank you. [applause.] >> thank you so much. well, i can't think of a better place to leave it than there. on behalf of this audience, and i think i am going to go ahead and say on behalf of canadians, i want to thank you not just for being here but shocking us into